No. 25 Vanderbilt previewed the wet and muddy LaVern Gibson Championship Course, Friday
Dores travel to Tuscaloosa
Dores travel to Tuscaloosa
Commodores ready to race Friday morning
Women's teams head to Alabama and Wisconsin
September 18, 2013
2013 SEC Cross Country Championships at Gainesville, Fla.
Rhonda Riley has completed six seasons at Vanderbilt, serving as the assistant coach for the men's and women's cross country teams and assisting with the distance runners during track season. Riley also coordinates much of the recruiting efforts for the programs.
Riley came to Nashville after serving two years at Arizona State and one year at Oregon State, with experience that has helped turn the Vanderbilt women's cross country team into a national contender and helped the track program emerge on the national scene.
In 2012, the women's cross country team returned to the NCAA Championships for the second-consecutive year and second time ever. Riley helped mentor Hannah Jumper and Kristen Findley to All-SEC honors, while Jumper finished seventh at the SEC Championships to capture the conference's Freshman of the Year award.
The 2013 track season saw seven middle-distance/distance runners qualify for the NCAA East Preliminary Round as part of a Vanderbilt-record 11 participants in the meet. Findley, Sara Barron, Lily Williams and Hannah Jumper ran in the 1,500 meters, while Liz Anderson, Grace Orders and Allie Scalf qualified in the 10,000 meters. All seven are Riley signees.
She was instrumental in securing a series of firsts in 2011, including an SEC Championship, a trip to the NCAA Championships and an All-American. The Commodore cross country team won the 2011 SEC title by placing five runners in the top nine at the Championships. The race also produced three First Team All-SEC runners (Alexa Rogers, Liz Anderson and Jordan White) along with two Second Team selections (Kristen Smith and Louise Hannallah).
Vanderbilt went on to place second at the NCAA South Regional and sixth at the NCAA Championships. Rogers earned a 39th placed finish at the national meet to become the program's first All-American.
The 2012 track season saw Riley help mentor freshman Grace Orders to SEC All-Freshman honors in the indoor 3,000 meters after the rookie placed third in the event at the SEC Indoor Championships. The outdoor distance runners were led by Smith qualifying for the NCAA East Preliminary Round in the 5,000 meters.
Riley was instrumental in steering most of the runners to the program, serving as recruiting coordinator. She helped sign the class that included Maryland Gatorade Runner of the Year Hannallah, Rogers and White.
She followed that class up by helping to sign Kristen Findley and Allie Scalf. Findley was an NCAA Preliminary Round qualifier in the 1,500 meters in 2011 and missed a trip to the NCAA Championships by .16 seconds. The next year's class included Anderson, Megan Yohe and Kara Slavoski.
Riley has now mentored several all-conference honorees during her tenure at Vanderbilt. Previous honorees included All-SEC performers Rita Jorgensen and Kristabel Doebel-Hickok.
In 2010, the women's team continued to build on their prior successes and exceeded expectations, finishing third in the SEC and placing third in the NCAA South Regional. White reached the NCAA Championships as an individual and four Commodores qualified for the preliminary round of the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 1,500 meters.
The 2009 season saw the Commodore women finish sixth at the SEC Championship, which was the highest finish ever in the 27 year history of the program, and fifth at the NCAA South Regional. White and Scalf were both named to the All-SEC freshman team after placing 22nd and 30th, respectively, at the conference meet.
In the 2008 cross country season, Doebel-Hickok garnered All-SEC Freshman honors during cross country last season after placing 22nd overall with a personal best effort in the 6K at the SEC Championships. Jorgensen posted an All-Regional qualifying effort, finishing 14th overall among the 156 runners at the NCAA South Regional.
In Riley's first season, Jorgensen received acknowledgement for her outstanding success as a freshman, taking home the Female Newcomer of the Year award at the Vanderbilt Black and Gold Banquet and the cross country Most Valuable Performer award. In Jorgensen's sophomore year, she dominated the early season, registering individual victories at the Belmont-VU Opener and Commodore Classic. In the same year, Val Kazmer earned Academic All-America honors.
Prior to going to Arizona State, Riley spent 2004 with the reinstated Oregon State program that was resurrected after a 16-year absence. Under mentor Kelly Sullivan, Riley learned the ins-and-outs of collegiate coaching, including administrative duties and working with student-athletes in the classroom. Before her time at Oregon State, the Portland, Ore., native served as a cross country and track and field volunteer coach at Corvallis (Ore.) High School.
Riley has completed six marathons during her time as a student and a coach, highlighted by being the ninth female finisher in the 2003 Portland Marathon. Riley also competed in the prestigious Boston Marathon in 2007. Riley completed her undergraduate work at Oregon State in 2004, majoring in early childhood development. She received her Master's degree in higher education while at Arizona State.
Men's Cross Country Headlines